By Chuck Huss, C.O.M.S.
All motorists, including those with low vision , will likely be confronted with situations involving aggressive drivers. Sometimes the latter becomes more noticeable during peak or rush hour times of the day, Monday through Friday, holidays or when the bars close.
The following document is a brief summation of what aggressive driving and other related behaviors are, examples of such behaviors, and how to avoid or reduce the risk of becoming part of the problem.
Incorporating these preventive measures, along with other appropriate defensive driving skills or behaviors will enable drivers to establish and maintain a safe space cushion around your vehicle from other road users who share your roadways.
Aggressive Driving - driving behavior that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property (R. Martinez, MD, NHTSA), or a combination of unsafe and unlawful driving actions that show a disregard for safety (A. Nerenberg, clinical psychologist).
Road Annoyance - having negative thoughts towards another driver or verbalizing negativity (such as muttering) in a manner that is not communicated to the other driver (A. Nerenberg, clinical psychologist).
Road Rage - one driver expressing anger at another driver for something he or she did on the road (A. Nerenberg, clinical psychologist).
II. Examples of such Behaviors
Aggressive Driving - speeding, running red traffic lights, tailgating, or following too close, improper passing, improper lane changes, disregarding stop signs, passing loading or unloading school buses, driving under the influence, failure to wear seat belts and improper or non-use of child safety seats.
Road Annoyance - muttering without visual contact with other drivers.
Road Rage - yelling, obscene gesturing, pressing the horn, flickering head lights up and down, spitting, hostile stares, tailgating, cutting off other drivers on lane changes, firing a gun, ramming a vehicle as a weapon, stalking and running other drivers off the road.
III. Counter Measures (D. Willis, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety)
· Use seat belts - saves 9.5000 lives annually
· Drive the posted speed limits
· Avoid eye contact with the aggressive driver - keep it impersonal
· Give the angry "road warrior" wide berth - if he/she escalates the dispute, get out of there!
· Don't block the passing lane
· Don't tailgate
· Use your horn sparingly
· Don't lane change without signaling
· Don't cut off other drivers - honor other's space cushion
· Don't use obscene gestures
· Don't allow car phones to distract you
· Don't use your high beams to punish other drivers
· Be mentally prepared to deal with an aggressive drive situation
· Put yourself in other drivers shoes - there may be a reason he/she is driving the way he/she is
· Learn to manage your anger
· Improve your in-car environment (listen to soothing music, book on tape, or relaxing breathing tapes)
· Know how to turn off anti-theft alarms · Don't allow your car door to strike an adjacent parked vehicle
· Report instances of aggressive driving to law enforcement authorities - #77 on cellular phones in many areas of the USA.
Also see: DrDriving.org - a website concerned with the psychology of driving.
Charles P. Huss, C.O.M.S. Coordinator, Low Vision Driver Services
West Virginia Rehabilitation Center P.O. Box 1004 Barron Drive Institute, WV 25112 TEL: 304-766-4803 FAX: 304-766-4816 Charles P. Huss is an Academy Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist with 25 years of teaching experience with visually impaired individuals [K-Geriatrics].
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